For the third straight year, head coach Monica Tantlinger and her Pasadena City College softball team reached the 25-win mark and her squad's 26th victory, an exciting 7-5 win in eight innings Monday at East Los Angeles capped the program's most successful regular season in 13 years.
The Lancers (26-14 overall) will qualify for the Southern California Regional Playoffs also for the third straight year under Tantlinger, who has directed her teams to five consecutive 20-plus win seasons in just her sixth year at PCC. The Lancers finished in second place in the SCC North Division with a 14-8 conference record.
On Monday, the Lancers trailed ELAC, 3-2, going into the seventh inning, but first baseman Valley Febles reached on an infield single and stole second base, then third baseman Samantha Diaz singled off the second baseman's glove up the middle to drive in Febles for the tying run. In the eighth, rightfielder Olivia Nanez drew a leadoff walk, catcher Jennie Chacon dropped a bunt single and leftifielder Gabi Perez moved the runners to second and third on a sacrifice. Designated player Alise Allen grounded a bouncer to first that turned into a 4-3 Lancers lead as Nanez darted home after drawing the attention of the Huskies' first baseman as Allen reached safely (fielder's choice RBI).
Allen stole second and Febles followed with a 2-RBI single to left. Diaz ripped a triple to left center to drive in Febles that gave Pasadena a commanding 7-3 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, ELAC rallied with two runs and had the potential tying run at that plate, but PCC reliever Austyn Helmuth recorded the final out on a catch by Nanez off a liner to right by Julie Granadeno. Helmuth pitched four innings of 4-hit ball and improved to 11-7 this year in the circle. She relieved Vivian Little, who spun four shutout innings before being touched for three runs in the fifth.
Overall, Febles batted 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. Diaz was a home run shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and a single with two RBI. Second baseman Danielle Ruiz knocked in two runs on a fifth-inning double and Perez was 2-for-3.
On April 16, Chaffey defeated visiting PCC, 9-5, despite a 2-for-4, two RBI and a double day by shortstop Kaylee Medrano and Ruiz also batting 2-for-4 with a double. On April 18, the Lancers gave SCC North champion Mt. San Antonio a tough battle but Briana Wheeler outdueled the duo of Little (four innings, six hits, one run) and Helmuth (two shutout innings) in a 1-0 Mounties home win. Wheeler struck out 11 and allowed just two hits. The only run was a homer by Jessika Trujillo in the fourth.
PCC split a 3-way doubleheader at Citrus College on Saturday (April 20). In the opener, Helmuth pitched a 1-hitter over six innings in an 8-0 victory over Santa Ana. The only Dons hit was a single in the third by Natalie Crawford. Helmuth retired the last 11 batters in a row and only faced one batter over the minimum. Offensively, the Lancers were paced by Nanez, who was 2-for-2 with a double, a triple and three RBI and Allen, who also hit 2-for-3 with three runs driven in. Ruiz went 2-for-3 with a double.
In game two, the Lancers trailed 4-2 v. Citrus, but rallied for two runs in the seventh, including leftfielder Nathalia Velasquez (3-for-3, three RBI) slugging a ground-rule RBI double. But in the bottom of the seventh, Owls catcher Brooke Fuss hit a walk-off, run-scoring single for a 5-4 win over PCC. Little (7-3) pitched well in relief, allowing only three hits over 4-2/3 innings with three strikeouts. Ruiz scored two runs and drew three walks.
Ruiz is the team's leading hitter with a .390 average while Medrano (.383) tops the squad in RBI (31), on-base percentage (.523) and slugging percentage (.585). Diaz (.358 and 12 doubles) leads PCC in runs scored (37), hits (43) and stolen bases (27). Velasquez (.324) has 29 RBI and is the team leader in doubles with 13. Helmuth has a 2.47 ERA in a team-high 122 innings pitched while Little has a 2.02 ERA in 59 innings. Britney Lopez has an 8-4 pitching record in 61 innings.
Check our Twitter site @PCCAthletics for future updates on PCC's SoCal Playoff seeding and opponent.